RESURRECTION PARK - PRACTICING FOR THE NEW CREATION
BY THE REV'D ELIJAH LOVEJOY
The membership of Church of the Apostles in Hope Mills, NC on June 7, 2017 voted unanimously to change our name to Resurrection Church and to build an adjacent 12 acre park called Resurrection Park. Resurrection Park is already half built and includes a quarter mile walking trail, a 9 hole disc golf course, 4 horse shoe throwing platforms, a half basketball court and 21 bird houses. A second church work day on August 19, Lord willing, will finish the park with a new commercial playground and swing set, benches, a full size soccer field and 9 more disc golf holes. The park is open to the public and is already seeing steady use from disc golf aficionados, pickup basketball teams and horse shoe fans. Resurrection Church sees Resurrection Park as our front porch where we play, host events and meet our neighbors.
While building Resurrection Park may seem like a logical step for a church with plentiful land, located on a major road just off I-95 and seeking to re-launch after 15 years of ministry, two friends also played a significant role in the vision behind Resurrection Park. The first friend is Jesus' resurrection from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:20 tells us, "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." Colossians 1:18 also describes Jesus as "the beginning, the firstborn from the dead." In other words, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a lonely solitary event or the climactic finish to his miraculous ministry. Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of the new creation, of new works, new fruit, a renewed image of God and a new family of God--all original Genesis 1 and 2 language. Jesus is now self-consciously renewing the entire cosmos on a much larger more successful scale.
The second new friend is realized eschatology. This is a big theological phrase for the biblical reality that through Jesus' ministry and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the last days (God's final reality that all time and creation are moving toward) have already begun. Therefore we should live in light of this new reality. A classic passage illustrating realized eschatology is 1 Corinthians 6. Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for suing each other in a pagan court of law, rather than resolving their conflicts in the church. Paul's reasoning is as follows, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?" In other words, start growing now into the greater reality and responsibility you will be given in the new heavens and new earth (i.e. the consummated eschaton).
What does this have to do with Resurrection Park? As we participate in Jesus' death and resurrection, we believe he is calling us to practice and be a new creation in him. We know from Scripture this new creation currently includes all who are "in Christ" and one day will also include the entire created order (the creation is being remade in reverse chiastic order from the Genesis 1 seven day program). Through building Resurrection Park, we are practicing for the new creation. We are also practicing hospitality (love of strangers), sacrificial giving to those who can't or won't give in return, thanksgiving for God's created beauty and the rejection of religious dualism that says God only cares about Sundays and "spiritual things."
The whole earth is full of the glory of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
The Diocese of Christ our Hope’s mission is to plant, equip, and multiply disciple-making Anglican churches, and to support and serve their people and leaders in Christian life and mission.